As for those actually interested in hearing about our trip, thank you! If you followed me two years ago when we traveled to London, you know that I don't just slap up photos of landmarks and buildings. When we Greens vacation somewhere, we aren't very typical. We don't do as much of the touristy things most people do. Instead, we live in the moment: eat the foods, shop in the stores, walk the streets, watch people, eat some more, take naps, observe interesting differences in bathrooms, eat some more, and walk, walk, walk. (I lost four pounds on this trip!)
What I'm saying is that hopefully you'll find these Japan posts interesting, funny and relatable. I won't know unless you tell me, so feel free to leave comments along the way. I'd love to hear what you're thinking.
Okay, here we go...
May 31 we were scheduled for a 6:50 a.m. flight out of Orlando to Washington D.C. then with a brief layover we were scheduled to fly on All Nippon Air to Japan. We're the type of folks who like to get to the airport at least 2 hours ahead, and with overseas travel usually a little earlier. The clocks were set for 3:30 a.m. so we could get to OIA by 4:30. We popped out of bed and started getting ready when Paul decided to check the website for our connecting flight's status. Cancelled!
This led to a very stressful hour, at least, of Paul calling United Airlines and trying to sort out what we could do. It was not going well. Sure, we could get another flight (much later in the morning) from Chicago instead of D.C, but the kicker was on our big flight to Japan they couldn't guarantee we would sit together. Paul was about to LOSE it, because it was for this very reason he made our arrangements many months prior. Now he's sweating, Jamie and I are just staring at him on the phone, struggling to speak with several different Japanese customer service agents. He finally had to pull the "I'd like to speak to your supervisor" card. And that worked.
We ended up with a five hour layover (which turned into about 6 1/4 hours with a flight delay) stuck in Chicago O'Hare airport. Needless to say, we ate. Chicago dogs! Pretty darn good, I must say. Jamie and I set up camp at a table where she sketched in her journal, and I colored in my coloring book while she gave me a refresher course on some basic Japanese phrases. (She had recently taken a Japanese language course, so it was pretty fresh in her brain.)
We practiced things like Good Morning, Excuse Me, Please, Thank You, Let's Eat, etc...
About an hour before our flight, I observed this rather large gathering of Japanese flight attendants nearby. They were dressed sharply, hair neatly done, and everyone had a small notepad and pen as they held what appeared to be a team meeting before the flight. This was a good sign. Organized, orderly, neat. Just the way I like things. (Okay, so my house wouldn't necessarily reflect this ideology, but let's just focus on the trip for now.) We were not disappointed. This is the perfect place to say how absolutely wonderful the service was not only on our flight, but all throughout our travels in Japan.
Finally our butts were in our seats on the plane to Japan! We're already exhausted, can you tell?
I won't bore you with flight details because nothing much happens on a flight besides watching movies, reading, sleeping and eating. But I will share what we were served for the first of two meals. It quickly became apparent that there wasn't much distinction between breakfast and lunch/dinner like we're used to in the States. But we are totally fine with whatever. All three of us. We all liked everything, even though we might not've known exactly what some things actually were.
Finally after a very long flight (over 13 hours) we landed at Narita Airport. I snapped a quick picture of the Welcome to Japan sign. We made it! (As I'm posting this photo, I'm noticing the sign below the welcome sign that clearly states "no photos." Oops.)
We had plans to pick up our WiFi gizmo (more on that tomorrow) but since our flight came in so late, they were closed and we had to make other pick-up arrangements for the next day. We did manage to get on the train in time to take us to Shinjuku Station which is just a few blocks' walk to our hotel, The Hotel Sunroute. It was about 11:15 p.m. in Japan, but our bodies were feeling the fact that we'd been up almost 24 hours now. We checked in (lovely hotel, wonderful staff) and put our luggage in the room and walked down the block searching for dinner. We ate our dinner around midnight. Noodle bowls, edamame, rice cakes, and beer.
One of my many fascinations on this trip was toilets. (You'll see.) This was our toilet in the hotel, and I can't even tell you how much I loved this sucker. I know bidets aren't new, but they ARE to this girl's bottom, and left me wondering why we don't all have one in the States. Some of the public restrooms also have them, and they even have a music button for when you go poo. Needless to say it kinda defeated the purpose, because whenever you heard the music playing in the stall next to you, you knew exactly what SHE was doing. And, by the way, it didn't do a great job of masking the sound all that well. Just added a musical flare to the whole situation.
Time for a shower and bed. Jamie had her own room across the hall. Paul and I had a slighter larger room. We discovered when we booked it months ago that rooms are much smaller than we're used to, and don't really cater to more than two people. Our room was sufficient in size (just enough room to walk around the bed) and there was no closet or dresser. Only a few hooks on the wall. We literally lived out of our suitcases the entire two weeks. But we took these things in stride because that's how it is there, and it's fun to do things differently for a change. I especially enjoyed the slippers and kimono-style robe they provided so I snapped a quick pic for ya.
Day 1 ended. In fact, we were already fully into our second day by the time our heads hit the pillow. (Japan is 13 hours ahead of the Eastern Time Zone.)
I'll end this post here and leave you to decide if you're interested in hearing more about Japan. No need to unsubscribe, please. Just skip past the next couple of posts and I'll see you again soon.